It’s been a while since there was a new series from MonkeyBrain Comics, but it’s been even longer since one really grabbed my attention with its imagery. Don’t get me wrong, the range of art is one of the things that’s great about MonkeyBrain, but there’s no denying that Behemoth #1 stands out from the crowd. When people read Behemoth #1 they’re going to instantly compare it to X-Men because of the “Mutant Registration Act.” Yeah there’s a bit of that here, but Behemoth takes it to another level. The opening is one of the strongest elements of the first issue as we open with a mother answering the door. We don’t see who she’s talking to, but it’s clear that it’s someone of law enforcement or a government agency. All the while the mom is trying to persuade the person she’s talking to that she’s okay and that her daughter didn’t mean it. Mean what exactly?
After seeing that she’s bleeding they storm into the house. The mom is looked after while the government men in black begin moving in on her daughter Theresa who we find in the bathroom. She’s transforming somehow and looks like she’s becoming an animal/human kaiju mixture. She catches on to what’s happening and busts through the bathroom window, but is eventually taken down. Her mom runs out to apologize to her and Theresa attacks her while still in “beast mode.”
From there a narration picks up from a letter from Theresa to her mother. She even explains who is writing the letter since she can no longer hold a pen which was a nice touch. Now monster-esq children and the government do not mix so you know where this is going from here or at least you have the general idea and that’s all you need.
Writer Chris Kipiniak does a wonderful job with the narration and dialogue. The opening page is very realistic and serves to only give you vague impressions of what’s actually going on making the reveal of Theresa all the more powerful. The narration that takes over afterwards and not only helps the reader, but serves the plot as well. The next narration after that shows just how easily Kipiniak can shift and change in this world, which may or may not be a metaphor for the world.
Theresa is a likeable character too. We don’t know what’s happening to her, she doesn’t either and so while we’re scared of her in “beast mode” she is too. When she comes out of it she feels intense guilt for the things she’s done and so even though she doesn’t look human she still is. Kipiniak makes sure that she’s relatable and authentic feeling even if her appearance is changing and shifting which is important because it makes us care about her and not view her as just a “monster.”
Co-creator and artist J.K. Woodward delivers, in my opinion, his best artwork to date. If you haven’t seen Woodward’s style you are in for a treat as it is all hand painted (I’m 99% sure it is) and fucking gorgeous if I do say so myself. The characters are photorealistic and that includes our Kaiju kids that we see later on. As strange as this sound though, the opening six panels are what hooked me on the story and the art (though that awesome cover helped too). We’re basically given someone else’s POV and it sucks you right into the world. It really gives the impression that we’re the person talking to Theresa’s mom and we pick up on all her anxiety and nervousness from those six panels.
I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but the creature designs by Woodward are very impressive and original. They’re inspired by the animal kingdom which adds the believability of the story, but still original feeling. It’s not just a cat man or something lame and done a hundred times before. It’s creepy stuff, but visually pleasing at the same time.
The biggest complement that I can pay this book is that I wanted to read the next issue right away. The world, the characters and the creative team won me over quickly which isn’t always easy. The thing is this isn’t one of those standout first issues that you can see fading quickly with the second issue (I read a few of those this week), but rather the start of a solid series. It didn’t just convince me that it was a good first issue, but rather convinced me that it’s going to be a good series from this point forward. And just remember it’s only a dollar so there’s no reason you shouldn’t instantly check this out.